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Surveying Judges about artificial intelligence: profession, judicial adjudication, and legal principles

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to bring changes to legal systems. These technologies may have positive practical implications when it comes to access, efficiency, and accuracy in Justice. However, there are still many uncertainties and challenges associated with the implementation of AI in the legal space. In this research, we surveyed Judges on critical challenges related to the Judging Profession in the AI paradigm; Automated Adjudication; and Legal Principles. Our results suggest that (i) Judges are hesitant about changes in their profession. They signal the need for adequate training that fosters legal literacy in AI, but are less open to changes in legal writing or their social and institutional role; (ii) Judges believe higher levels of automation only lead to fair outcomes if used in earlier phases of adjudication; (iii) Judges believe and are concerned about AI leading to Techno-Legal Positivism; and (iv) Judges consider that Legal AI technologies may have a positive impact in some legal principles, as long as everyone has equal access to those technologies and cybersecurity and judge on the loop safeguards are in place; and (v) Judges are strongly concerned about the de-humanization of Justice. They consider that assessing evidence, analyzing arguments, and deciding on a legal case should be inherently human. By surveying these practitioners, we aim to foster a responsible, inclusive, and transparent innovation in Justice.

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Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author.


  1. European Court of Human Rights Annual Report 2021.

  2. Case identification: ECLI:PT:TRP:2017:355.15.2GAFLG.P1.


  4. The neutral category encompasses comments that emphasized both positive and negative impacts as well as general comments related to Legal AI.

  5. In this reflection we include comments written by participants about the impact of AI in core legal principles—full comments may be found in the appendix.


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The author makes a special acknowledgment to Sandra dos Reis Luís, João Ferreira, and João Miguel Mendes for their collaboration in the development of the survey in Portuguese Judicial Courts. The author acknowledges Sandra dos Reis Luís and João Miguel Mendes for the deployment of the survey. The author also thanks and presents her sincere appreciation to the Judges who participated in the testing sessions of the survey (Ana Chambel, Cátia Santos, Filipe Aveiro Marques, Gabriela Cunha Rodrigues, Georgina Rodrigues, Jão Cura Mariano, Maria Olinda Garcia, and Pedro Soares de Albergaria). The author acknowledges the Supreme Court of Justice, in the person of its President Henrique Araújo for the collaboration in the research project. Finally, the author also acknowledges and thanks all the Judges who completed the survey.

Curmudgeon Corner

Curmudgeon Corner is a short opinionated column on trends in technology, arts, science and society, commenting on issues of concern to the research community and wider society. Whilst the drive for super-human intelligence promotes potential benefits to wider society, it also raises deep concerns of existential risk, thereby highlighting the need for an ongoing conversation between technology and society. At the core of Curmudgeon concern is the question: What is it to be human in the age of the AI machine? -Editor.

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Martinho, A. Surveying Judges about artificial intelligence: profession, judicial adjudication, and legal principles. AI & Soc (2024).

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